New History of Psychiatry: Negative Emotions, Latent Schizophrenia, and More

The June 2022 issue of History of Psychiatry is now online. Titles, authors, and abstracts below.

“Fear, disgust, hate: negative emotions evoked by animals in ancient literature,” Lucyna Kostuch. Abstract:

Ancient literature contains thoughts, observations and opinions about animals causing fear, disgust or hate that can be of great interest to scientists researching the problem of phobias, fears and anxieties in history. So in this article, it is argued that we can go as far back as ancient times in the research on the history of animal phobias (or, speaking more generally, in research on the entire spectrum of negative emotions evoked by animals in individuals or in entire social groups or societies). In that period, the phenomenon was observed and described in an anecdotal form, and attempts to establish the causes of this phenomenon were undertaken. This article discusses these early ideas about phobias, fears and anxieties related to animals.

“Gustav Nikolaus Specht (1860–1940) life data: psychiatric practice, research and teaching during a change of psychiatric paradigm before and after Kraepelin,” Birgit Braun, Johannes Kornhuber. Open access. Abstract:

Gustav Specht (1860–1940) developed academic psychiatry in Erlangen. After studying medicine in Würzburg, Munich and Berlin, he became assistant medical director in the mental asylum of Erlangen. In 1897 he was appointed extraordinary, and in 1903 ordinary, Professor of Psychiatry. A good clinician and teacher, Specht worked during a time of paradigm change in psychiatry. He was an expert in chronic mania, and introduced the concept of the ‘grumbler’s delusion’. Paranoia he believed to be the core problem of psychopathology and considered the depressive syndrome as an ‘exogenous-type’ of reaction. For him, trauma was important in the genesis of mental illness, and his ‘hystero-melancholy’ anticipated the concept of borderline personality disorder.

“Foreign medical graduates and American psychiatry,” Laura Hirshbein. Abstract:

Graduates from foreign medical schools (FMGs) began to staff US state psychiatric hospitals after World War II, and became increasingly associated with the poor quality of those institutions. Public and professional commentary on FMGs criticized their skills and suitability for the US healthcare system in the 1970s, at the same time that state hospitals were under increasing attack. By the 1980s and 1990s, the association between international medical graduates (as they became known) and underserved populations became an argument in favour of easing restrictions on these graduates. The role of foreign-trained psychiatrists in the US public sector became a way for American psychiatry leaders to manage the problems of the seriously mentally ill, first with blame and then with neglect.

“Supply or demand? Institutionalization of the mentally ill in the emerging Swedish welfare state, 1900–59,” Liselotte Eriksson, Johan Junkka, Glenn Sandström, Lotta Vikström. Abstract:

Historical studies on the institutionalization of the mentally ill have primarily relied on data for institutionalized patients rather than the population at risk. Consequently, the underlying factors of institutionalization are unclear. Using Swedish longitudinal microdata from 1900–59 reporting mental disorders, we examine whether supply factors, such as distance to institutions and number of asylum beds, influenced the risk of institutionalization, in addition to demand factors such as access to family. Institutionalization risks were associated with the supply of beds and proximity to an asylum, but also dependent on families’ unmet demand for care of relatives. As the supply of mental care met this family-driven demand in the 1930s, the relative risk of institutionalization increased among those lacking family networks.

“The case of Dr Pownall – mad doctor, sane patient and insane murderer,” Peter Carpenter. Open access. Abstract:

Dr Pownall was a surgeon, asylum proprietor and one-time mayor of Calne who had bouts of insanity. He had two serious bouts of violence when insane, and later murdered a servant, Louisa Cook, after his discharge from Northwoods Asylum as recovered. He was tried for murder and ended up in Broadmoor, where he died in 1882. There are extensive contemporary public accounts of the case, but detailed examination of the roles of the local chief magistrate, Purnell Barnsby Purnell, and Pownall’s brother-in-law and asylum doctor, Dr Ogilvie, reveals severe tensions that adversely influenced events. Everyone defended themselves, and few lessons were learned about cooperation.

“The ‘insanity’ of Lady Durham,” Ruth Paley. Open access. Abstract:

This essay draws on evidence in a late nineteenth-century court case and surviving medical notes to provide a case study of a hitherto unidentified case of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The case is particularly interesting in that it not only appears to be the first identification of historical ASD in a female, but also because the patient subsequently developed symptoms of psychosis suggestive of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. The unusual survival of detailed medical notes also throws light on the ways in which a difficult patient was treated by supposedly enlightened pioneers of psychiatry.

“On the origins of the concept of ‘latent schizophrenia’ in Russian psychiatry,” Birk Engmann. Abstract:

In the mid-twentieth century in the Soviet Union, latent schizophrenia became an important concept and a matter of research and also of punitive psychiatry. This article investigates precursor concepts in early Russian psychiatry of the nineteenth century, and examines whether – as claimed in recent literature – Russian and Soviet research on latent schizophrenia was mainly influenced by the work of Eugen Bleuler.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.